2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Lincoln Nautilus

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the Explorer and Nautilus have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Explorer has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Nautilus’ child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Explorer ST/Platinum has standard Reverse Brake Assist that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Nautilus doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Explorer’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Nautilus doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Explorer and the Nautilus have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, available all wheel drive and around view monitors.

Warranty

There are almost 4 times as many Ford dealers as there are Lincoln dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Explorer’s warranty.

Reliability

The Explorer has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Nautilus doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than Lincoln vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 1 more problems per 100 vehicles, Lincoln is ranked fifth.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Ford vehicles are more reliable than Lincoln vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford 16th in reliability. With 1 more problems per 100 vehicles, Lincoln is ranked 19th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Ford vehicles are more reliable than Lincoln vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Ford 2 places higher in reliability than Lincoln.

Engine

The Explorer has more powerful engines than the Nautilus:

Horsepower

Torque

Explorer 2.3 turbo 4 cyl.

300 HP

310 lbs.-ft.

Explorer 3.3 DOHC V6 hybrid

318 HP

322 lbs.-ft.

Explorer Platinum 3.0 turbo V6

365 HP

380 lbs.-ft.

Explorer ST 3.0 turbo V6

400 HP

415 lbs.-ft.

Nautilus 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

250 HP

280 lbs.-ft.

Nautilus 2.7 turbo V6

335 HP

380 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Explorer gets better fuel mileage than the Nautilus:

MPG

Explorer

RWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/28 hwy

AWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

Nautilus

FWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/26 hwy

AWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/25 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the Explorer Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Nautilus doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The Explorer V6 Turbo’s standard fuel tank has 2.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the Nautilus (20.2 vs. 18 gallons).

Transmission

A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Ford Explorer, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Nautilus.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Explorer ST’s optional brake rotors are larger than those on the Nautilus:

Explorer ST

Nautilus

Front Rotors

14.3 inches

13.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13.8 inches

13.6 inches

The Explorer ST’s optional front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs standard on the Nautilus are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Explorer has larger standard tires than the Nautilus (255/65R18 vs. 245/60R18). The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Nautilus (275/45R21 vs. 265/40R21).

Having a flat tire is dangerous, inconvenient and expensive. The self-sealing tires available on the Explorer can automatically seal most punctures up to 3/16 of an inch, effectively preventing most flat tires. The Nautilus doesn’t offer self-sealing tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Explorer’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Nautilus doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Explorer’s wheelbase is 6.9 inches longer than on the Nautilus (119.1 inches vs. 112.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Explorer is 2.1 inches wider in the front and 2.2 inches wider in the rear than on the Nautilus.

Chassis

The front grille of the Explorer (except 3.3 V6 non-Hybrid) uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Nautilus doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The Explorer has standard seating for 7 passengers; the Nautilus can only carry 5.

The Explorer has 44.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Nautilus (152.7 vs. 108.3).

The Explorer has .8 inches more front headroom, .2 inches more front legroom, 2.8 inches more front hip room, 2.9 inches more front shoulder room, 1.3 inches more rear headroom, 3.5 inches more rear hip room and 2.9 inches more rear shoulder room than the Nautilus.

Cargo Capacity

The Explorer’s cargo area provides more volume than the Nautilus.

Explorer

Nautilus

Third Seat Folded

47.9 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

n/a

37.2 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

87.8 cubic feet

68.8 cubic feet

The Explorer’s cargo area is larger than the Nautilus’ in every dimension:

Explorer

Nautilus

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

20.8”/49.8”/83.9”

n.a./41.5”/75”

Max Width

59”

45”

Min Width

48.1”

45”

Height

33.7”

31”

Towing

The Explorer’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Nautilus’ (3000 vs. 2000 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Lincoln Nautilus is only 3500 pounds. The Explorer offers up to a 5600 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the Explorer is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Nautilus. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the Explorer and the Nautilus have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Explorer is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Nautilus prevents the driver from operating the rear windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Explorer’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Nautilus’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Explorer has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the Nautilus only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Explorer detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Nautilus doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Nautilus Select/Reserve/Black Label’s cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The Explorer Platinum’s standard adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.

Recommendations

The Ford Explorer outsold the Lincoln MKX/Nautilus by over 9 to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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